04/23/2004 11:00PM

Summit of Speed tops calendar

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Calder Race Course opens its doors for the long 2004-05 season on Monday, and expectations are high for another big year at the south Miami oval. The 126-day Calder meet runs through Oct. 23, followed by the Tropical at Calder session, which begins Oct. 24 and continues until Jan. 2, 2005.

Entries for opening day filled to overflowing, with racing secretary Bob Umphrey having to split the main event, the $40,000 That's Our Buck Handicap, into two divisions.

"I'm very impressed by the way the opening-day card filled," Umphrey said. "And I'm also encouraged so many older horses showed up for the stakes, since the races are preps for both the Ponche and Memorial Day handicaps over the Memorial Day weekend.

"The key to the meet, as always, is how the 2-year-olds come along," he said. "Up until a few years ago, we opened four weeks later, and filling the baby races was much easier than it will be over the first month of this meet."

Highlighting the Calder meet will be the Festival of the Sun on Oct. 23 and the Summit of Speed on July 10, a pair of multi-stakes days that have proven extremely popular with fans and horsemen.

The Festival of the Sun offers eight stakes worth $1.5 million in purses, topped by the In Reality and My Dear Girl stakes, the $400,000 finales of the rich Florida Stallion Series.

The Summit of Speed is fast becoming one of the top days on the national racing calendar, featuring the $500,000 Smile and Princess Rooney handicaps, the richest sprint races in the country aside from the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

The $350,000 Azalea and Carry Back stakes for 3-year-olds support the summit's all-sprint program, which presents six stakes valued at $1.75 million.

"It's really nice to see people win major sprint stakes and say they are pointing to Calder for the Summit of Speed," Umphrey said.

The connections of Cajun Beat, the reigning Breeders' Cup Sprint winner; Alke, runner-up in the Dubai Golden Shaheen; and Shake You Down have already indicated their desire to run in this year's Smile Handicap.

"We have been able to find our niche with these sprint races, to the point where the Summit of Speed has now become a major day in racing," Umphrey said.

On opening day, Super Frolic and Summer Note will be favored to win the first division of the seven-furlong That's Our Buck.

Super Frolic turns back in distance off a sharp two-turn allowance victory over Supah Blitz.

The injury-plagued Summer Note finished fourth after encountering early trouble against a strong field of allowance rivals this month at Gulfstream Park. The race was the first since last summer for Summer Note, who dead-heated for victory with More Than Ready in Gulfstream Park's 2000 Hutcheson Stakes.

Scrubs, a 6 1/2-length winner of Tampa Bay Downs' Florida Day Sprint Stakes, and Built Up, a game allowance winner at Gulfstream, are the ones to beat in the second division of the That's Our Buck.

At a glance: Calder

* RACING SCHEDULE: 126 days; Monday through Oct. 23; Fridays through Tuesdays until Sept. 7; Thursdays Through Mondays, Sept. 7 until Oct. 23

* POST TIME: 12:50 p.m. Eastern, except 2:55 p.m. on Fridays from June 4 through Sept. 3

* ADMISSIONS: Grandstand, $2; Clubhouse, $4

* STAKES HIGHLIGHTS:

Date Race/Grade purse
May 31 Memorial Day H. (3) $100,000
July 10 Azalea BC (3) 300,000
July 10 Smile Sprint (3) 500,000
July 10 Princess Rooney (2) 500,000
July 10 Carry Back Stakes (3) 300,000
Sept. 6 Miami Mile BC (3) 150,000
Oct. 23 In Reality Stakes 400,000
Oct. 23 My Dear Girl 400,000
Oct. 23 Calder Derby (3) 200,000

* LOCATION: Miami Dade/Broward County Line; 21001 N.W. 27th Ave., Miami, 33056

* INTERNET: www.calderracecourse.com